Struggling with poor first-half defense and 26 turnovers, the Longhorns suffered their first loss against TCU in program history. The Horned Frogs jumped out to a 30-18 halftime lead en route to a 54-48 victory.
“We didn’t put forth the effort in the first half against a team that’s hungry and never beaten us,” head coach Karen Aston said. “We didn’t have the desire to win in the first half.”
Satiating TCU’s hunger left the Longhorns (12-6, 3-3 Big 12) with an empty plate in the first period. They battled a 5:29 scoreless stretch and allowed the Horned Frogs (12-6, 3-3 Big 12) a clear advantage in the paint.
The Longhorn season has been characterized by domination in the paint, outrebounding opponents by an average of 12.6 rebounds per game and outscoring opponents in the paint by an average of 33.9 to 18.0. But in Sunday’s first half, the Horned Frogs tripled the Longhorns’ inside production — outscoring them 24 to 8 in the paint — and outrebounding them 24 to 19.
“We were absolutely horrible on the defensive end in the first half,” Aston said. “Every hustle play was theirs and we didn’t have the effort it takes in a Big 12 game. You can’t kid yourself about what the Big 12 is like and we showed up very lackadaisical.”
Texas sought to reclaim a chance at victory with an 11-0 run to open the second half. Cutting the deficit to one, the Longhorns paired offensive production with long-awaited hints of defense as they forced three TCU turnovers. Texas also kept the Horned Frogs scoreless for around eight minutes before junior Natalie Ventress broke through and scored at the 11:22 mark.
From there, the in-state squads traded baskets and leads. Sophomore guard Brady Sanders’ three second-half 3-pointers kept the Longhorns in the game until free throw woes troubled them down the stretch. Both senior guard Chassidy Fussell and junior forward Nneka Enemkpali missed their free throws before TCU sank four straight from the line.
Aston said that, though defense was the deciding factor, the team must also reassess its mental preparation on the road.
“Some people need to get hungry again,” Aston said. “You get in the situation where you’re getting a lot of minutes and you get comfortable. We’ve got to get some ‘uncomfortableness’ about us again.”
Sanders and sophomore center Imani McGee-Stafford led Texas with nine points each, while McGee-Stafford and Enemkpali grabbed seven and 12 rebounds respectively. Enemkpali fouled out for the second consecutive game.
Texas returns to the friendly confines of the Frank Erwin Center this Saturday at 3 p.m., as the Longhorns host West Virginia (17-2, 5-1